On Wandering

Maya Foster - Ecuador


August 21, 2018

The experiences that teach us the most are often those found through
wandering. This is true in the classroom; tangential lessons sparked
by the genuine curiosity of the students are some of the most
memorable of my educational career. This is true in art; the images
I’ve created when inspired to explore new styles and methods of
photography are some of my best. This is true in movement; some of my
favorite moments in my dance classes over the years have been the
result of missteps and human fender-benders. Through wandering, I
discovered my interest in existential philosophy, my passion for fine
art photography, and some of the most amazing friends I could ever ask
for. Dance, especially, has taught me that what we may think are wrong
turns are actually just paths to a different destination (whether
that’s new choreography, variations in technique, or just silly
moments that make class feel playful and full of joy).

My experiential learning has always been my most rigorous learning.
Wandering breeds experiences, specifically immersive, engaging
experiences that have stuck with me for much longer than the formula
for differentiating equations ever did. It has taught me much more
than hours of flashcards or even the most rousing of PowerPoint
presentations ever has. This is not to say that those things don’t
have their place. The learning I’ve done in school has prepared me for
knowledge acquisition long after I exit the traditional classroom
environment. I love to learn. I love to know things, to analyze, and
to synthesize. Experiential learning requires me to adapt, to analyze
my situation and to apply my best guess at what knowledge I have that
is relevant.

School can often breed a fear of failure. The pressure to perform well
discourages failing, even thoughtful failures. Experiential learning
doesn’t just promote failure, it requires it. Do I think that the
transition from fearing failure to embracing it will be an easy one?
No. But do I think it will be an important one? Absolutely. And while
I don’t expect this transition to only span the time of my bridge
year, I believe that being forced to embrace cultural mishaps,
inevitable grammatical errors, and unexpected challenges will be a
step in the right direction. As I wander into the unknown, I hope to
engage with these challenges with intention, compassion and awe.

I’m excited to embark upon a journey that is inherently non-linear.
While the notion terrifies me, I know that this year will be the
source of tremendous growth for me. I cannot wait to see what Ecuador,
my new family, and my colleagues have to teach me.

I’ll keep you posted… 🙂

Xoxo,
Maya

Maya Foster